Hypertension – how to get an accurate measurement?

Dear readers: Many of your questions revolved around Hypertension – elevated blood pressure, which is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, kidney (renal) failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately.

Measuring your own is the best way to track itWhether you are checking your blood pressure (BP) at home as advised by your physician or at your physician’s office, it is important to do it right and get an accurate measurement.

Check out this infographic with 7 simple tips to help you get the most precise BP measurement.

Continue reading

Why it’s okay to have some chocolate

Dear Dr. Mo: I’d like to know if there are any health benefits we can derive from eating chocolate?

chocolateDear reader: Having a sweet tooth myself, I very much understand your concern and in the context of health, I am happy to say – Yes!

I have already written in some detail about health benefits of chocolate so be sure to check it out.

Let me recap it here and add some fresh findings to support it.

Just recently, certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoa flavanols, have been linked with improved cognitive abilities, especially in aging individuals. It appears that regular flavanols consumption can turn a tide on some age-related thinking dysfunctions.

This conclusion comes out of a recent Italian study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Continue reading

5 health benefits of Onions – poor breath great health

Dear Dr. Mo: What about onions and health – I avoid them because they give me bad breath but I actually love onions. Should I eat them anyways?

Great combination

Great combination

Dear reader: With their unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetables—such as onions—belong in a healthy diet on a regular basis.

The total polyphenol content (polyphenol Quercetin) of onion is higher than its fellow allium vegetables, garlic and leeks and other polyphenol rich plants like tomatoes, carrots, and red bell pepper. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants linked to prevention of cardiovascular diseases (by primarily helping us regulate the cholesterol levels and reducing oxidative stresses).

When onions are simmered in a soup, their Quercetin is not destroyed. It simply leaks out into the water. By simmering at low-heat, you can preserve the health benefits of onion that are associated with Quercetin.

Here are 5 quick health benefits we derive from eating onions on regular basis:

1. Onions are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate and manganese;

2. They help relieve symptoms such as coughs, congestion, lung tightness in asthma and respiratory infections;

3. Sulfur-containing nutrients in onions have been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels;

4. Onions contain natural anti-clotting agents with fibrinolytic activity and platelet-clumping suppression ability. The anti-clotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content and this property is again beneficial for preventing complications in cardiovascular diseases for example; Continue reading

Health benefits of Melons

Dear Dr. Mo: I loved your posts on Squash and I have a question about Melons – I love Melons and I was wondering about possible health benefits I can incur from that fruit?

Refreshing and healthy!

Refreshing and healthy!

Dear reader: Melons are related to Squash and comparable to it in their health benefits. Let me list a few important ones:

Blood pressure control

Eating melons can help control blood pressure as they contain potassium and potassium lessens the effects sodium has in elevating blood pressure; cutting back on dietary salt is also important in maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.

Vitamins

Melon is a fine source of vitamin B6 which helps maintain our body’s metabolism and some recent data shows that this vitamin reduces inflammation, oxidative stress and helps regulate metabolic disturbances including obesity and diabetes.

Just like carrots for example, melons too owe their bright colour to vitamin A — one cup has about 40 percent of our daily needs. Vitamin A is important for vision and bone growth.

Another vitamin found in plentiful supply in Melons is vitamin C and this one is crucial for collagen formation to maintain your cartilage, bones, gums, skin etc. Vitamin C won’t do us much good when we catch a cold, just so you know, that’s a (pharmaceutical) myth. Continue reading

If you don’t have your health, everything is ruined

Dear readers: In a recent interview for Esquire, titled “What I’ve Learned”, Woody Allen says an interesting and important thing he’d learned from his dad: “My dad didn’t even teach me how to shave — I learned that from a cabdriver. But the biggest lesson he imparted is that if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. No matter how great things are going for you, if you have a toothache, if you have a sore throat, if you’re nauseated, or, God forbid, you have some serious thing wrong with you — everything is ruined..

Image credit: www.kalisthenixfitnessblog.com

Image credit: www.kalisthenixfitnessblog.com

Inspired by Mr. Allen’s lesson from his father, and in relation to my recent post in which I wrote about some cool health benefits of Butternut Squash that even made it to the list of those healthful foods that can heal your tired legs, I’ve decided to share with you one simple recipe for a quick, healthy and easy way to make a very tasty Squash.

Here’s how to do it: Continue reading

Tired legs? Try these 5 dietary tweaks to help your tired legs

Legs could be windows into health - if they're tired, you need a recharge

Legs could be windows into health – if they’re tired, you need a recharge

Dear Dr. Mo: My legs feel tired relatively often and I’d like to know if there is something I can do about it? Should I be worried?

Dear reader: The feeling of tiredness in legs is a relatively common complaint and the reasons for this feeling could be different. If the feeling is more than just tiredness and it extends into pain and cramps, swelling, numbness and other more severe symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately as these could signal a more serious underlying condition.

That said, check out my earlier post on the Tired legs in the morning and the possible causes as well as several things you can do about it.

Use a healthy diet in your favour to get rid of tiredness in your legs and in some instances even pain (but like I said, for pain, always see your doctor first and discuss your options, including your diet).

Include foods that are rich in calcium, fiber, proteins and vitamin E in your diet as well as foods that will clean up your blood vessels  and regulate your blood pressure. These ingredients will maintain your health and specifically improve the strength and fitness of your legs.

What exactly do I mean? Here are 5 important points that you can use in your diet to improve the health of your legs and reduce the feeling of tiredness:

1. Try these 4 foods to keep you blood vessels clean from cholesterol plaques – healthy blood vessels also mean good blood supply to your legs, and well fed legs are fit and recover quickly from walking, running, jumping or just simply standing.

2. For blood pressure regulation try Beets, which can help to regulate mild hypertension (high normal and even stage 1)

3. Eat weekly some Butternut Squash and spinach for a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins A, E, C and B

And fiber is a necessity in any healthy diet, for good digestion and a healthy weight.  Continue reading

Your lifestyle can protect your brain – small lifestyle changes largely reduce stroke risk

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Dear Dr. Mo: Someone I know has just had a stroke. What can I do to reduce my risks of stroke? I’m middle aged and generally in good health.

Dear reader: What we have long suspected, the latest study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke confirms: By making small changes in our lifestyle, we could reduce our risk of having a stroke by up to 48%, depending on our general health status – the better our overall health, the larger the reduction in stroke risk!

Researchers in the study assessed stroke risk by using the American Heart Association’s  Life’s Simple 7 health factors: 

  1. Be active
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Manage blood pressure
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Control blood sugar and
  7. Don’t smoke

Continue reading

5 very good reasons to love Zucchini

Green powerhouse

Green powerhouse

Dear Dr. Mo: My wife loves zucchini. I am not a big fan but she insists that zucchinis are healthy without stating any specific health benefit. Are zucchini really that healthy? 

Dear reader: Zucchini are indeed very good for your health. They help you control and manage your weight and its vitamins and minerals boost your immune system, health of your heart, skin, eyes and lungs.

One cup of boiled zucchini (according to the USDA), contains as little as 27 calories but it also has 2 g of fiber, which is pretty good!

Here are 5 very specific health benefits and good reasons to have zucchini in your diet (give this list to your wife so that she can have some concrete facts the next time she intuitively advocates for this healthy veggie): Continue reading

Measuring your blood pressure at home – should you do it and how to do it correctly?

Measuring your own is the best way to track it

Measuring your own is the best way to track it

Dear Dr. Mo: How important is regular measuring of blood pressure at home and how to do it correctly?

Dear reader: Taking measurements at home is one of the best ways to keep track of your blood pressure and know its values at different times of day. This is all very useful for your physician to see the ways your treatment is working and whether or not some adjustments need to be made.

If not on meds, you’ll be able to see how your life style influences your blood pressure values – this could also be very useful to your doctor.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your values are as correctly measured as possible. Of course, your monitor needs to be in good condition and properly gaged – there are trusted brands out there you can get so speak to your pharmacist and/or your doctor. I bought OMRON to my parents and it’s working wonderfully.

If the cuff is to large of to small for you hand, order a custom one as cuffs need to fit correctly in order to take proper measures.

Now, with the technical bit out of the way here are 5 basic and golden principles to follow whenever you are measuring your blood pressure at home:

1. Avoid eating heavy food, smoking (anything), or drinking caffeinated beverages for at least 30 minutes before taking a measure

2. Avoid talking while testing and try to remain calm; rest and relax 5 minutes before testing and breathe deeply and slowly

3. Avoid crossing legs if possible; sit comfortably with back supported in a chair and feet on the floor

4. Rest your arm on a table, desk or chair arm so that the arm is at heart level (or as close to this as you can)

5. Last but equally important as this is something all of us tend to do: avoid looking directly into the display while taking a measurement – look away and relax Continue reading

Natural ways to manage mild hypertension – eat Beetroot!

Natural remedy for elevated blood pressure

Natural remedy for elevated blood pressure

Dear Dr. Mo: My blood pressure has recently been slightly elevated. Are there some ways to control it with a healthy diet before I turn to meds?

Dear reader: The so called ‘high normal’ blood pressure (130-139/85-89 mmHg) and even sometimes Stage I hypertension (140-159/90-99 mmHg) can actually be alleviated and managed with mostly life-style changes like salt restriction, proper hydration, quitting smoking, exercise and of course diet adjustments. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t take the meds prescribed by your doctor – do take them by all means as these are usually necessary to act as short-term blood pressure regulators. (In some cases, meds are constantly required). Continue reading

Exercise for healthy hearts and minds

 

Dear Dr. Mo: I’m a guy in my late 40s, not overweight and I work a lot. Is there something I can easily do to stay healthy and live longer?

Dear reader: Many things are important as we age, and this goes for both sexes, not just men: blood sugar levels, blood pressure, mobility and fitness, risks for cancer, heart and mental health.
For us men, I would say that the latter two are really important and that by maintaining them we surely improve all other parameters to help us live longer and better although women are no different in this regard. Continue reading

Beer tan – why does booze make us blush?

Dear Dr. Mo: Why do people get beer tan?

Beer makes you blush

Beer makes you blush

Dear reader: We see these people every day – at times, we are those people; also called drunkard or boozed out or, more telling – a red face.

It’s one of those properties of alcohol for which, taken only in moderation, it is known to have actual health benefits. Well, in case of beer tans, we are no longer talking about moderation and any potential benefits are long gone. Continue reading

What is healthy eating?

Dear Dr. Mo: How do we really define healthy eating? Where should I begin?

healthy eating means versatility in colours, shapes, sizes and tastes

healthy eating means versatility in colours, shapes, sizes and tastes

Dear reader: Healthy eating could mean different things for different people so when you hear or read that you should eat healthy, there comes a logical question – what does it mean for you?

En générale, healthy eating means choosing the right types and amounts of different food for your age, sex, activity level, health and of course, taste!

I have written extensively about food choices and types so explore my previous posts, some of which are here: Mediterranean diet, Importance of breakfast, Myths about healthy eating, Foods for a lower cholesterol, Eating healthy on the road, Fiber and health, Healthy foods etc.

So how to do it? How to eat healthy? Continue reading

Alcohol – that social lubricant

Dear Dr. Mo: I want to know some basic facts about alcohol and what it does to me when I drink. Is there a safe amount that’s actually good for health?

Don’t drink and drive!

Dear reader: Sometimes you might hear from a doctor that moderate alcohol consumption is good for health.

The peril lies in the word “moderate” for it is arbitrary; it is not the same for everyone and one could easily slip from moderation to amounts that are not at all useful to health. We could certainly argue if alcohol is useful in any amount because while it may be beneficial to one part of the body, it is damaging to another.

We don’t really need alcohol as far as maintaining our health is concerned so if you’ve never drank, don’t start as risks outweigh potential benefits.